Creativity / Incompleteness / Philosophy / Science / Thoughts

The Cloud

The cloud of gas and dust from which the solar system arose was more complex than you might think. Consider you had to write down a complete description of it, a theory from which all its properties could be derived.

You are not done with describing its shape, density distribution and composition. You might think that would describe the cloud completely but, as we will see, it was much, much more complex, because it could evolve.

You would have to describe the planets that formed from it and the sun. Or even all the alternative planetary systems that could have developed out of it and all the planets that could have formed, with their complete geological and meteorological histories.

You would have to describe how life arose, an autocatalytic network of different types of molecules from which living cells eventually arose, because this life could arise on a planet forming in the cloud. In fact you would have to describe every alternative form of life that could have formed on any of the possible planets that could form from the cloud.

You would have to describe the complete evolution of life, including the life history of every organism that ever existed, because they could evolve from the cloud. In fact you would have to describe every possible route evolution could have taken (but did not), every possible history of life on any planet that could form and bear life. You would have to describe life because a part of the cloud could start living.

You would have to describe the emergence of humans and their culture, and in fact every possible alternative history of the emergence of intelligent beings and their cultures on any possible life bearing planets that could have formed in the cloud. You would have to describe intelligence because a part of the cloud could start thinking.

You would have to describe every possible culture, every possible history, including the one that led to you, but also every one that did not lead to you, including every thought, every event, every book, everything that ever happened in this culture or could have happened or will happen or could have happened in an alternative intelligent species, possibly on an alternative planet. You would have to describe this blog, and your own.

So a cloud of gas and dust – if it is big enough and if you wait long enough – could start living and thinking. It might spawn trees, mushrooms and frogs, artists, tyrants and philosophers, you and me.

So never underestimate a cloud.

(Picture from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Star-forming_region_S106_(captured_by_the_Hubble_Space_Telescope).jpg)

11 thoughts on “The Cloud

    • Indeed some of these structures that became visible through the Hubble telescope are extremely beautiful. I think astronomy has always had an aesthetic side, even if one is not interested in the science.

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